I’m a big fan of learning ways to improve your mental wellbeing and one idea that I really like is adopting an attitude of gratitude. You might wonder what an attitude of gratitude has to do with cycling but for me, I’m so very grateful that I found road cycling 12 years ago that the two things are inseparable. I try to be grateful for all the wonderful things I have in my life but I don’t always succeed so I thought it would be helpful for me and others to reflect on the benefits of developing an attitude of gratitude and how you can gain one.
Fans of the practice say that by developing a conscious habit to express appreciation for your life, the Universe listens and responds with more love. An attitude of gratitude forces you to get outside of your problems and look at the bigger picture. In turn, you are better able to bounce forward when challenges occur in life.
Grateful people give thanks for everything in their life, even on the days when it feels like nothing is going right.
How can I develop an attitude of gratitude?
Keep a gratitude journal
I keep a journal that I write in once or twice a week and one of the things I include in my journal is what I am grateful for. Strangely enough, I often ponder this question for a few minutes before I come up with something and invariably I write something bland like “I’m grateful for good mental and physical health”.
We often experience things that we should be grateful for, only to forget about them the next day. By writing them down we are rewriting our brains to focus on the good.
When it comes to practicing gratitude, consistency is key. For you, it might be a great way to start your day, or at the end of your day before you go to sleep. I’m going to focus on being more specific on my gratitude from now on. Next time I will write “I’m grateful that I ride a road bike”.
Express your gratitude
Once you have developed an attitude of gratitude, you are free to share that love with others. How often do you take the time to tell people in your life how much they mean to you?
Research shows that on the days that individuals strive to express their gratitude, they experience more positive emotions and are more likely to report helping someone and to feel connected with others.
Think about the people in your life who have made a positive impact on you. Reach out and tell them how much you appreciate them. There are plenty of ways to express your gratitude, through words – written or verbal, and through your actions.
Whenever I ride with friends I like to thank them for the ride and their company but I don’t always do it. It’s really important that you express gratitude more often.
Celebrate the small things
We are conditioned to focus on and celebrate our big achievements, instead of our small wins. However, if you fail to ignore the small things and keep rushing from one thing to the next, you will quickly become demotivated.
Take time to pause, slow down, and savour the small things. Instead of obsessing about the future or dwelling on the past, be more aware of the present moment. Next time I ride up a big hill I’m going to feel grateful that I have the physical and mental ability to reach that summit.
Pay it forward
One beautiful way to show gratitude is to pay it forward. Meaning, instead of paying back those who have supported you, you do something good for another person. Of course, you could also reciprocate but sometimes you don’t have the opportunity so helping someone else can also express your gratitude.
When I started riding a road bike many people helped me with advice and support. I now try and do the same thing for other new riders and pay it forward.